A Wacky Week for John McCain

Hot dogs at the White House, a kazoo rendition of "Hail to the Chief" and a failed teleprompter. All figured in Sen. John McCain's week as he continued down the campaign trail after clinching enough delegates for the Republican presidential nomination.

SCOTT SIMON, Host:

John McCain celebrated his lock on the Republican presidential nomination this week with President Bush in the White House Rose Garden. He also encountered a few thorns.

NPR's Scott Horsley has this Reporter's Notebook.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Sometimes being a presidential nominee isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sure, John McCain got invited to a private lunch with the president on Wednesday, but the menu turned out to be hot dogs.

On Thursday, in Florida, he got not the Marine Band playing "Hail to the Chief" but Rebecca Gustafson and her kazoo.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAIL TO THE CHIEF")

HORSLEY: Gustafson, a music teacher, was waiting to greet McCain outside the popular Howley's Restaurant in West Palm Beach.

SIMON: Anybody who suffered and still has a sense of humor where they would think that somebody who was playing "Hail to the Chief" with a kazoo is funny, he's okay in my book.

HORSLEY: McCain needed that sense of humor this week. Even though he's now the presumptive nominee, the trappings of his campaign weren't always exactly presidential. First, a teleprompter failed during his victory speech on Tuesday, and the next day his campaign staff accidentally forgot a busload of reporters. I know because I was on the bus.

McCain had just met with the president and the Republican National Committee and driven off to Dulles Airport for a flight to Florida, but no one told the bus driver who was chauffeuring us to follow him, so we sat parked outside the RNC for more than an hour while McCain was waiting anxiously on the tarmac. By the time we finally caught up, the senator was very late for a Florida fundraiser.

The next day, McCain tried to hold a news conference in West Palm Beach with Florida governor, Charlie Crist.

SIMON: As many of you may recall, his endorsement of my candidacy.

U: Let me get another one.

HORSLEY: The bulky PA system had other ideas.

SIMON: It's a well-oiled machine we have here.

U: We already got another one. Try that one.

HORSLEY: As TV crews scrambled, McCain soldiered on, trying one, then another and finally three different microphones.

SIMON: It's a plot. Why don't I just stand here because it seems to be going on and off and so that you can hear me?

HORSLEY: McCain's warts-and-all visibility on the campaign trail shares the attitude of Howley's Restaurant, where the motto is: Cooked in sight; must be right. Sometimes, though, it's best not to show too much about how the sausage or even the White House hot dogs, are made.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAIL TO THE CHIEF")

SIMON: NPR's Scott Horsley.

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